Leonard Dillon 1942 – 2011

Leonard Dillon, founding member of influential Jamaican vocal group The Ethiopians, has passed away after losing his battle with cancer.

Dillon, 68, was one of PRS for Music’s first Jamaican members, having joined the society in 1968. He died at his daughter’s home in Kingston, Jamaica, on 28 September.

Dillon formed The Ethiopians with Stephen Taylor in the mid-60s, and they built their name with a string of hits including Train to Skaville, Fire Deh A Muss Muss Tail and Everything Crash, which was later covered by Prince Buster.

Together, Dillon and Taylor created innovative music that pushed the ska and rocksteady genres forwards, while Dillon’s vocal style and Rastafarian-themed lyrics are credited for launching the roots reggae movement.

Dillon went on to record with Peter Tosh, Vincent Chin, Joe Gibbs, Bob Andy, Rupie Edwards, and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry.

In 2009, he returned to the studio with legendary Jamaican vocal team The Silvertones to record his final album Original Hitmakers From Jamaica, Volume 1: Leonard Dillon The Ethiopian.

Patrick Meads, from Big World Publishing, worked closely with Dillon. He told M: ‘Leonard was one of the founding fathers of reggae music and a truly great songwriter and artist and the music of his group The Ethiopians will live on.

‘I have been Leonard’s friend and publisher for 25 years. He was a strong, warm and very humorous man who was always understated and modest as to his musical achievements. I will miss him.’

Dillon was born on 9 December 1942 in Port Antonio. His mother was a music instructor. He is survived by his wife Sylvia, seven children and seven grandchildren.